The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


This poll has ended.

Have you started decorating for the holidays?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Loading Recent Classifieds...

COLUMN: The beauty of close proximity friendships

Ashanti Thomas

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Camp New Hope.

If you are unaware of what that is, it is the location of a leadership retreat put on by Residence Hall Association and National Residence Hall Honorary. I was lucky enough that this year was my second year of going as it is my second year of being the President of Ford Hall here at Eastern.

Last year, I was the only Ford delegate and while I had an amazing time, I was lonely because I was still new at being President, so I was very anti-social, and I was the only female delegate. This year, my experience was completely flipped on its head.

I was able to walk in the door this year with five other Ford residents as well as meet tons of new people. Now, while I am President, it is still very early in the semester, and I am still shaking off my summer of being a tad anti-social.

That being said, I knew little about my fellow residents and was still afraid they did not like me.

I have this bad habit of thinking people dislike me at first glance because of a lifetime of being told I give off an intimidating presence. Mainly from the aspect of my height, constantly dyed hair, and my love of black clothing.

These silly little stereotypes that completely changed my thinking when it comes to first impressions.

Anyway, on the first day, I sat a bit far from my other residents in fear I would make them uncomfortable. The only other Ford resident I sat next to was someone I have known for quite a long time, and I knew he would not be upset if I did.

I sat there looking around, wondering how I would try to make some friends. Though we were going to be sharing a room and a bathroom, that was not enough to get to know someone.

Throughout the next couple of hours, I sat in the same spot, my anxiety growing. We were given some free time to either sleep or play some board games and I made my way downstairs to join the games. I decided it was time to face my fears.

I sat at a table with a few of my other Ford residents and we played a board game together for hours. Getting to know each other, laughing, yelling at each other when we lost or won. Just having fun without thinking. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart.

The next morning, I woke up and we continued our day doing fun programs and I got to know some of my other residents. We laughed some more, we talked about our daily lives, I learned about what they saw in their future. It felt so nice to actually connect with people because of our close proximity.

I know many of the friends I make in classes were through simply sitting next to each other or being put in a group project rather than just deciding to connect on a personal level. Here, we needed to talk and there were no class subjects to converse about, we needed to resort to our lives or make jokes.

That night, we were able to paint, make friendship bracelets, play board games, or sleep. Our group of Ford residents decided we would all make friendship bracelets together. I was ecstatic. I felt like I was seen as a friend and not just the person who runs the meetings every week.

Five of us sat together and I worked on braiding together a bracelet like I thought we were all doing. I sat there braiding quickly when I heard a “here Kierstyn.” I looked up to see the person across from me handing me a green and blue ‘Ford’ bracelet.

I had thought they made it for themselves, but they prompted me to take it. I grabbed it, a bit confused, and then I noticed three other letter beads on the other side.

I flipped it and examined the three beads, noticing a K, a heart, and a B bead. I looked up at them, realizing they had made it for me and that my initials were part of the beading. I swear, I could have cried.

I immediately put it on, and I have only taken it off when I need to. Later on, I noticed we all were given bracelets with our initials on them saying ‘Ford’ and it is such a special gift. This bracelet is going to go through a lot in its time on my wrist, and I will not forget the memories made during that weekend.

Friendship bracelets made at Camp New Hope Leadership Retreat.

Yesterday, a few days after returning home, the same person who made me the bracelet bought me a smoothie just because I said I was going to be up late writing a paper. They had remembered I do not drink coffee from a conversation we had during the weekend.

Another moment was when we were painting the windows for this year’s Neighborhood Week, and we all drew and danced together to songs from Disney movies. We again laughed and talked like we have known each other for years.

I am so thankful for the memories I made this weekend and the fact it had brought us together.

I also will always cherish the friendships I made with people from other halls, my stomach still hurts from how much I laughed. Without this trip and our close proximity, I might have never met them at all as we sometimes stick in our own little residence hall bubbles.

Something I think we as humans tend to do is let fear rule our lives, whether it be about ourselves or other people. If we just let those go, we would realize that friendships lie around every corner, we just need to stop overthinking and go say hi.

Kierstyn Budz can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Kierstyn Budz, Columnist
Kierstyn Budz is a senior English major. This is her first year at The News. 
Ashanti Thomas, Photo Editor
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest